The Sweeper: The Future of the US Open Cup
We’ve praised DC’s marketing effort for the US Open Cup final tonight, fueled by their spat with the Seattle Sounders over hosting of the final, but DC supremo Kevin Payne is on the ball when he says efforts by clubs themselves are not enough for the tournament to thrive.
As Payne says, the Open Cup needs greater marketing and funding from US Soccer. “I think that U.S. Soccer needs to attach a very significant cash prize to it, like a million dollars,” Payne told the Washington Examiner. “That gives people something to hang their hat on. I think the teams in [Major League Soccer] would take it a lot more seriously, and it’ll start to grow in stature. Either that, or we should stop it.”
Of course, it would be a serious blow to American soccer history if its oldest competition simply stopped: its yearly supply of fairytale stories adds an oft-missed annual infusion of grassroots enthusiasm to American soccer. And while US Soccer may not be paupers, it’s unlikely they have $1m just sitting around to pump into the Open Cup. At the same time, how much effort do US Soccer put into marketing the tournament to even begin to think of attracting a sponsor or a major television deal? (which of course would be criticial to offering the kind of prize money Payne mentions)
The official US Open Cup website gives us a clue. TheCup.us, a fan-run information site about the Open Cup, launched last night, moving from its previous URL at USOpenCup.com — a domain now owned and operated by the USSF, which from yesterday leads to the very sparse section on the recently relaunched US Soccer website about the tournament (the site also directs visitors to TheCup.us for more information).
This is a curious state of affairs for America’s premier knockout tournament, which offers the winners a place on the CONCACAF Champions League. A reliance on a supporter-led venture as the premier source of information for the tournament is unlikely to be the starting point for major investment which would make it financially worthwhile for MLS clubs to put the kind of focus DC has on the final into the tournament as a whole.
- Confusion continues to reign over the future of USL (with a breakaway by USL-1 clubs still threatened), but despite this, Ottawa has applied for a USL-1 license, and the 24th Minute notes Vancouver’s ownership group is considering a USL-1 presence even after the Whitecaps move to MLS in 2011.
- It’s fairly embarassing for MLS that three veteran referees — including the 2008 Referee of the Year — will not referee any further MLS matches this season following review by US Soccer (two were removed for failing fitness tests). On the one hand, given we all know the standard of officiating in MLS is poor, it’s good to know there is some accountability from the sport’s governing body. On the other, how bad is it for MLS when even veteran referees aren’t cutting the mustard?
- DC United is facing a lawsuit over alleged non-paid commission on sponsorship deals. Footiebusiness looks at some of the details in the complaint.
- Ahead of their visit to Wembley for a friendly with England this week, Johnathan Wilson considers the “quiet revolution” in Slovenia’s football that sees it with a chance to qualify for the World Cup finals for the second time in its 18 year existence as a FIFA member.
- The Football Association is looking for a new sponsor after E.ON confirmed they would not be renewing their support of the FA Cup. Bidding for the 2010-14 rights will soon begin, but with a TV deal still lacking after the demises of Setanta in the UK, the FA may struggle to match the previous $51.75 million deal.
- Who would win a Premier League second XI championship? Gabrielle Marcotti looks at the depth available and concludes Spurs are the strongest, though (a little curiously) also says such squad depth “probably won’t impact upon how well they do this year.”
- After the quiet passing of transfer deadline day, David Pleat has a club-by-club guide to the Premier League’s moves in the market. Overall, Premier League spending fell from £500m to £450m, with £127m of that amount coming from Manchester City alone.
- EPL Talk looks at the sad case of Adrian Mutu, who may be forced from the sport after the startlingly excessive compensation award to Chelsea for his breach of contract by testing positive for recreational drugs.
The Sweeper appears daily. For more rambling and links throughout the day every day, follow your editor Tom Dunmore @pitchinvasion on Twitter.